As Co-op Bank announces that it is putting itself up for sale, let us assess the brand’s current consumer perception and the traits that typify a typical customer.
The bank, which is 20% owned by the wider Co-operative group, was bailed out by US hedge funds in 2013, before negative headlines enveloped its chairman Paul Flowers later that year.
YouGov brand tracking data tells the story of the Co-op Bank’s difficult time and its attempted recovery.
Although the brand has not recovered to pre-scandal levels and is still loss making, it is true to say consumer perception has moved in the right direction.
The bank’s Impression score (whether you have a positive or negative impression of a brand) plummeted from +21 to -25 in mid-2013. However, since that time the bank has gradually recovered and its Impression score is now positive once more at +5. This compares well both to other challenger banks and the industry as a whole. Among the bank’s current customers, its Impression score is far healthier – standing at +54.
It should be taken as a positive that the bank’s (and indeed the wider group’s) - ethical standpoint means it does have a clear identity – and whomever takes over will need to recognise the characteristics of the Co-op Bank’s typical customer.
YouGov Profiles data clearly underlines the bank’s customers’ attitudes to financial policy and society more generally. For example, the typical customer is more likely than average to make an effort to buy fair trade products (47% vs. 40%) and shop at local businesses (65% vs. 62%).
What’s more, they are more likely to want much greater redistribution of wealth (41% vs. 31%) and to strongly support a wealth tax (39% vs. 28%).
Whether a buyer can be found to continue running the business under the same ethical principles (and therefore retain customers that have been drawn to those values) remains to be seen, but YouGov data does point to brand that is broadly well thought of by the public, and even more so by those that are customers.
This article originally appeared in City AM